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Poster: Fact_Checker Date: Aug 5, 2009 5:26pm
Forum: feature_films Subject: Re: Winnowed recent-moves / Babes in Toyland 1934

Through the 1980s, "March of the Wooden Soldiers" was a mainstay of public-domain VHS distributors, and it was pretty easy to find low-cost copies in major chain stores (Suncoast Motion Picture Company, MusicPlus, etc.). At some point, all of these copies on various labels disappeared from the stores. Multi-tape Laurel & Hardy sets that had contained it were replaced by sets that didn't. It seems likely that a legal challenge was made against these distributors. "Babes in Toyland" under that title had not been issued by these companies but "March of the Wooden Soldiers" had, so let's figure that the public domain companies were told that by copying "March of the Wooden Soldiers," they were infringing the underlying copyright on the 1934 "Babes in Toyland" (which of course they were).

If you figure that these companies had money invested in video masters, packaging, unsold inventory, and faced return shipping costs, you should figure that at least some of these companies would research whether "Babes in Toyland" did indeed have a valid renewal. I have no inside information on this; I'm just figuring that the lack of infringement of "March of the Wooden Soldiers" for about the last 20 years amounts to near-proof that the public domain companies with the greatest capital investments at stake became satisfied that the "Babes in Toyland" renewal was everything the film's owner said it was.